Adelaide’s Space Machines Company signs partnership to explore in-space logistics services

Adelaide’s Space Machines Company signs partnership to explore in-space logistics services

A render of Space Machines Company's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle - via SMC.

Adelaide-based Space Machines Company has today announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global launch services company Airanespace to explore how the two can make their tech compatible.

Space Machines Company, which is aiming to build the future of in-space transportation and logistics services with its Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), said the partnership will see the two companies study options to ensure optimal compatibility between France-based Arianespace’s launchers and the OTV.

In the same way that tech-enabled infrastructure has unlocked economic value on Earth, SMC hopes its in-orbit logistics and transport services will assist humanity with crossing the next frontier: space.

Co-founded by George Freney and Rajat Kulshrestha in 2018, SMC is also looking to address the future challenges of inactive satellites and space debits, and is designing solutions to help customers manage satellites in space.

The MoU comes ahead of SMC’s ‘Roll Out’ first mission - anticipated to launch in the second quarter of 2023 - where the company will carry Australian customers’ payloads into space. In order to maximise this upcoming opportunity, the company aims to make the Optimus OTV compatible with as many launchers as possible, including Arianespace’s new Airane 6 and Vega-C vehicles.

Earlier this year, SMC announced it secured Elon Musk’s SpaceX as a launch partner for its OTV - one of the largest commercial spacecraft to be designed and manufactured in Australia.

“Arianespace has launched eight satellites for Australia since 1987 and will launch the next-generation Optus 11 into orbit. The whole SMC team is very excited to enter into this MoU with a leading launch provider,” SMC CEO and co-founder Kulshrestha said.

“The Australian space industry is growing fast, and we need strong international partnerships on the global market to succeed, as a new space-faring nation.”

Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël also welcomed the partnership.

“In order to provide the best and most cost-effective solution to customers, Arianespace has always looked for new and innovative technologies and today intends to build partnership with Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) providers that will take in charge the last-mile-to-orbit delivery,” Israël said.

“In order to define the ground rules for any future collaborations, we decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Space Machines, a key startup in a key country, Australia, establishing the terms and conditions of our cooperation approach.”

The news comes just over a month after SMC signed a partnership with telco Optus to explore ways to manufacture and provide on-orbit services of spacecraft from Australia.

According to Optus the ‘cornerstone’ agreement will leverage SMC’s local spacecraft manufacturing expertise and the telco’s experience as the nation’s largest satellite owner and operator to grow the space ecosystem.

“Optus is committed to supporting the growth of the Australian space industry and increasing awareness of our country’s technology and space capabilities. Together, Optus and Space Machines Company will provide the Australian public and private sector with an option to not only operate satellites from Australia, but now build them within our own borders,” said Optus managing director of wholesale, satellite and strategy Ben White.

“We are delighted to work alongside industry pioneers and innovators Space Machines Company to lead the charge in making space more accessible than ever before to Australians. Space is the next frontier, and together we are exploring ways to harness its potential.”

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